Spiritual friendships

“In spiritual friendship, we commit to the awakening of oneself, the other, and the relationship.” (p. 180, The Buddha’s Wife)

In The Buddha’s Wife, a beautiful and profound friendship develops between Princess Yasodhara and Channa, Siddhartha’s manservant. Their story unfolds and intertwines as the two confront the grief of Siddhartha’s departure from the palace and their lives. Both loved him deeply, and their devotion to him as wife and servant, ultimately becomes a way they can help each other.

Their friendship is remarkable not only in terms of class (princess and servant) but also gender. Their relationship grows simultaneously with the growth of Yasodhara’s spiritual sangha with the women of the palace, and Channa is invited, whereby he becomes a member and a spiritual friend and confidant to her: “A metaphor for the relational path could be a garden…. Plants, like humans, bud, bloom, flower, fruit, and die. Each grows separately aboveground but roots intermingle and are mutually impacted. Sometimes, it is far easier for one friend to see deeply into the true nature of the other.” (p. 180)

Four qualities of spiritual friendships from the book include:

  • Sharing spiritual community
  • Committing to self and each other
  • Learning together
  • Become listening and speaking partners